Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unfortunate Technical Error

How long before the folks at MSNBC.com pick this one up?
"Long road to the White Ho"?!?!?! What?!?!?
Of course, this is just a technical error - the "use" in "House" got cut off because the column is too narrow. But it almost seems like a subconscious Freudian exposure of deep seeded racial fears. That's so much more interesting than an HTML problem.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Speak For Yourself III: More McCain/Palin Rally Insanity

This time, McCain-Palin supporters at a rally in Ohio express their views.

Again, one must ask, what is it about these rallies that attracts this element? Why would people who think like this also support John McCain? What does that say about McCain and Palin? What does it say that these people support McCain's policies?


Apparently, I Will be a Deadbeat Dad

That's right, according to Bill Cunningham, if I should father any children, I will promptly abandon them, on account of my blackness, because "that's what black fathers do." Yeah, it sounded unbelievable to me, too, until I played the Media Matters audio clip, and heard it for myself.


Oh, and since I made it to age 18 without being abandoned by my father (thanks, Dad!) I guess that means my dad isn't black. WOW! And all these years, he thought he was a brotha. Maybe one day Mr. Cunningham will come out with some theory that my mom is an alien from Jupiter.

By the way, this is the same Bill Cunningham that was given the privilege (if you can call it that) of introducing John McCain before one of his rallies. He took this opportunity as a prime moment to repeatedly, and in a malicious way, mention and disparage Barack Obama's middle name (in case you didn't know, that name - Hussein - has been in Obama's family for a long time, probably since before Saddam Hussein was born in a country far away from Obama's family). Here's the obligatory video clip:

One more thing on Mr. Cunningham. He was gracious enough to warn us that black people, regardless of the result of the election, will create mischief and mayhem in the streets.

Now, aside from the fact that he attributed comments to police chiefs that no police chiefs ever made, this is just racist. Yes, hateful fear-mongers like Cunningham should be afraid of what will happen if this election is stolen, because we will make our voices heard, just as we did in the 1960s when our right to vote was being compromised. This issue may come up again, because this idiotic mess probably deserves its own, more detailed post.

Speak for Yourself II: Obama the Father and Baby Killer?

Because, as Rachel Maddow points out in this clip, being a father of two and wanting to see infants run over by a train aren't exactly congruent characteristics, this right-wing mailing is just insane.




Is this racism? Maybe. But it's probably more just bitter partisan hatred mixed in with a healthy dose of hopeless stupidity.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What?!?!?!

Growing up, I was always taught that three things would never happen. Well, we're now two for three:

#1: The American economy won't crash because regulations put in place in th 1930s during the Great Depression by Franklin Roosevelt would prevent it.
Well, while we're not near the devastation of the great depression - yet - we're inching closer, and we're facing possibly the worst financial crisis since the '30s due to deregulation. What, again, was the point of American History class?


#2: Philadelphia major pro sports teams don't win championships. Period.
Well, the Phillies just won. It took them three days to play the last game, but they won. Does that mean we can replace "Joe the Plumber" with "Ryan the Champion"? I mean, for variety's sake.

And then there's #3 - A black man can't become president.

TUESDAY'S COMING!!!

Speak For Yourself I: Racism in Pottsville, PA

I'm starting a new series, entitled "Speak For Yourself," in which I will offer minimal commentary and allow the words of others to speak for themselves. This first installment is a video featuring a slew of persons outside a McCain rally in Pottsville, PA, making racist comments about Senator Obama and even blacks in general.


Now, some of the comments are obviously racist, like "I'll never vote for a black man." But go back and ask yourself this: how does race factor in the views of those who want to "bomb Obama," or think that his "associations and judgment" are "un-American," or who insist that he was "born in Kenya" and demand to see his birth certificate (in case your wondering, factcheck.com actually did see and examine his birth certificate, and have proven, as most sane individuals already knew, that Obama was born in Hawaii, and we should all know by now that Hawaii is part of the United States).

Final question: Why are McCain/Palin rallies attracting so much of this element?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Apparently, I hate Real Americans

Yes, it was revealed at a John McCain rally that liberals, like me "hate real Americans that work hard and achieve and believe in God." This is in spite of the fact that I am a real American that works hard and achieves and believes in God. I guess this makes me a self-hater.

You can read about my self hatred here: http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/20/hayes-liberals-hate/

I have go to class, more righteous indignation to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why Can't Barack Be Black?

My question is simple.

Why do so man people - mostly whites, but some blacks - have such a problem with the idea of Barack Obama being black?

I hear so much, "He's half white," "His ancestors weren't slaves," "Why do we talk about him as a black man, not as a white man?" Before he called him an Arab, Rush Limbaugh called Obama (and Halley Berry) "Halfrican" in reference to their mixed heritage.

Why is it that, in a country where it is a fact of life that many, if not most, African Americans have some non-African ancestry, so many are obsessed with Obama's non-Africanness? Why are people so uncomfortable with him being black?

I have my on hypothesis in answer to this question, but I'm interrested in what others think. Leave your answers by commenting on this post, and then I'll be back with a follow-up post.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Respect the Truth of Lewis's Statement

The latest distractions in this year's presidential election revolve around race. The mess started as V.P. Candidate Sarah Palin made it a point to attack Barack Obama on his non-relationship with William Ayers. Palin also suggested that it might be a good idea to attack Obama on the issue of his former paster, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Now, if you've been reading this blog for long enough, you know that my immediate response to this was that such a line of attack – depicting Obama as scary and anti-American – only has the possibility of being effective because of Obama's race.

Well, this increasingly negative tone was effective in inciting increased fear and hatred at least among John McCain's base. Before we knew what was happening, McCain-Palin rallies turned into places for almost all white crowds to vent their hates and their fears (are they synonyms?) in increasingly disturbing ways. When McCain sought to conjure up the image of Obama as a scary unknown by asking “Who is the real Barack Obama,” someone in the crowd yelled out, “Terrorist!” While Palin was speaking of Obama and Ayers, a supporter cried “Kill him.” Someone even yelled, “Off with his head.” There was booing at the mere mention of Obama's name. Those allowed to pose questions at McCain's “town hall” style events were noticeably angry and expressed fear of Obama. One lady even said, incorrectly, that Obama is Arab, and even McCain had to correct her on that one. After some bad press, McCain decided that he needed to urge his audiences to tone down the hate. This was, of course, received with a chorus of boos.

It's also worth pointing out that McCain had, at first, criticized Obama for attacking those in attendance at McCain-Palin rallies.

This all led up to this weekend, when civil rights legend and Georgia Congressman John Lewis took McCain to task. Although this post is already getting long, I think it's worthwhile to post Lewis's comments in their entirety.

As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.

In case you don't know, George Wallace was a racist who ran for president on a segregationist platform.

Of course, John McCain was quick to issue a response:

Congressman John Lewis' comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama's record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I've always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.

For his part, Senator Obama's campaign issued the following statement:

Senator Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies. But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee for President of the United States ‘pals around with terrorists.’ As Barack Obama has said himself, the last thing we need from either party is the kind of angry, divisive rhetoric that tears us apart at a time of crisis when we desperately need to come together. That is the kind of campaign Senator Obama will continue to run in the weeks ahead.

So, after all this, the question is, was Lewis right for saying what he did? I say no. And yes.

Let's deal with the no first. New Jersey Governor Jim Corzine said today on Meet the Press that Lewis's comments showed poor timing, serving as a distraction from the real issues. I agree in that, strategically, this is not good for Obama in that it allows McCain to paint him as a race-baiter who wants to distract voters from the real issues at a time when McCain has been the one truly guilty of distracting.

However, since Lewis did make the comments, I must say I agree with what he said. The statement from the Obama campaign first points out that McCain's policies are not pro-segregation, as were Wallace's. With this I must also agree. While McCain's policies will have a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans, they are not unapologetically racist. John McCain is no George Wallace.

Here's the thing: No one accused McCain of sharing policies similar to those of Wallace. Lewis only accused McCain and Palin of creating an atmosphere that breeds hatred and, potentially, violence. Are we really going to argue that this isn't true? Sarah Palin all but calls Obama a terrorist, John McCain ask, “who is Barack Obama,” and we really don' think that contributes to a hateful and divisive atmosphere? Although we can't read their minds to prove it, we essentially know that part of the McCain-Palin strategy was to remind easily swayed voters that Obama is a scare/shadowy/creepy/unknown young black guy with ties to terrorists and angry black men. He's “not one of us.”

Palin complained that Obama saw America as “imperfect enough” to be friends with a domestic terrorist. When I heard this it made me sick, because I immediately recognized it as the argument that blacks complain too much and are ungrateful to this country. It echoed her low blow at Michelle Obama, and was an attack on every black person who has ever dared to point out the flaws of their country. This was a divisive statement if ever there was one, and it was a dog whistle to her supporters, reminding them, “we can't let this ungrateful, America-hating black man win.”

What kind of response did John McCain expect when he described Obama as a vague and unknown figure? Did he really not expect people to respond by being afraid of Obama? Did he really think that he could paint Obama as a danger to America and not incite anger and violence? At a debate for senate in Georgia, a woman in the crowd cried out, “bomb Obama.” Given the tone of his rallies – a tone he helped to create – is McCain really surprised at such comments?

Let's look at Lewis's words one more time:

He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.

While Lewis here was speaking of Wallace, such words could soon come to describe the reckless and repulsive actions of McCain and Palin. Judging from the atmosphere of their rallies, violent encounters at polling places wouldn't surprise me. Barack Obama already received Secret Service protection earlier than any candidate ever (other than those who already had it, like V.P.s or first ladies) because of racial tensions. There was already a poorly planned assassination attempt during the Democratic National Convention in Denver. And now we hear threats of violence as McCain and Palin stoke the worst fears of their supporters.

If anyone would know about such a thing, it would be John Lewis. He's not a professional race-baiter. He doesn't go around crying “racism” just to get attention from the media. When someone who lived through racial violence just because he tried to exercise his legal rights tells you that the potential for such a thing to happen again exists, you listen! I dare anyone to show me what, exactly, Lewis said that was untrue. As far as political strategy is concerned, I question the timing of Lewis's comments. Still, we must respect the truth and wisdom within his statements, or we risk allowing our already struggling democracy to slip into a fear- and hate-fueled chaos.


Food For Though:



Sunday, October 5, 2008

Even Little Kids Know We're Racist

A new study shows that children are well aware that we have never had an African American, Latino, or female president.

Calling into question the idea children live in a color- and gender-blind world, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, reveal "most elementary-school-aged children are aware there has been no female, African-American, or Hispanic President."
What's even scarier is the way they children explain this phenomenon:

A third of the children said the white male monopoly was due to "racial and gender bias," and another third believed members of the excluded groups "lacked the skills to hold the position," according to the study.

One in four participants told researchers they thought it was "illegal for women and minorities to hold the office of president."

So, let's review. 1/3 of children believe that only white men are skilled enough to be president. 1/4 believe that the law prevents women and minorities from being president.

No wonder kids are lazy. They're already being told they can't achieve, even if they try hard.

Palin's Low Blow on Michelle Obama

Unless they do something so deplorable that they raise reasonable doubt about the judgment of the candidate, the candidate's spouse should be off-limits in political contests. Apparently, Sarah Palin doesn't abide by this standard.

This was a clear and direct attack on Michelle Obama's much noted comments about not being proud of being an American. For Palin to take such a shot during the Vice Presidential debate showed a complete lack of integrity on her part, and a lack of respect for the Obama family. How would she like it if Barack Obama or Joe Biden took cheap shots at her husband?

But, beyone violating rules of politeness and respecfulness, Palin showed a complete lack of consideration for the black experience. Her remark suggest that black do not have a reason to be disapointed in the United States. How is it that black are wrong for criticizing the United States? And what, exactly, is it that we ought to be proud for? Many of the good things about this country that are supposed to stir patriotism don't apply to whites the same as they do to blacks. Let's look at a few:

Democracy & Voting - While African American men were given the right to vote soon after the Civil War, many blacks did not actually get to vote for 100 years, due to racist state laws, acts of violence and intimidation, barrires to registration, and a lack of intervention by the federal government. Today, black and other minorities are still subjected to underhanded attempts to rob them of their votes. Names are unjustly removed from voter rolls, illegal "caging" practicies abound, and intimidation still occurs. Depending on who controlls the White House, the Justice Department may show little if any interest in investigating such injustices.

Economic Opportunity & Social Mobility - Again, this nation has a long history of denying equal economic opportunity to blacks. This can be traced back to slavery. Even after slavery, the premature end of Reconstruction left many blacks in an economic position as close to slavery as one could be without being a slave. Piled on to this disadvantage was the fact that many African Americans were barred from participating in labor unions, and many would argue that labor unions are still hotile to minorities. Research even shows that a black man with no criminal record is less likely to get a job than a white man with a criminal record. We also know that, no matter who you blame, black and brown children just don't get the same quality education as whites. While there are some exceptions to this rule, I can make this broad generalization because our public schools are growing more and more segregated by the day.

We Live in a Land of Justice - Let me remind you of the "Jena 6" incident, in which 6 African American boys were charged with second degree murder for a school fight. While the were wrong and deserved some form of punishment, the excessivly harsh charge was issued by a District Attorney who showed an inability to take any action when African Americans were the victim. He even went as far as to threaten blacks who protested the haning of a nuse on school property - an act that qualifies, by law, as a hate crime. During the fallout from this incident, the U.S. Department of Justice did nothing. This is just one example of the people who's salary we pay through taxes to protect us - police, district attornies, justice departments, and judges - have become the enemy of the black community.

We're the Melting Pot - Often time, that melting pot ask African Americans to forsake their own culture in order to take up the cloak of Eurocentric culture. Our music, speech, clothing, family structure, religious practice, and other aspects of our culture are deemed as inferior.

I could go on with this, but I think you get the point. While I'm glad to live in this country, I and other persons of my hue have some legitimate complaints. We are taught as small children about how wonderful this country is, but as we grow older, we encounter a very different world. We learn that all the great features of this country don't always apply to us. For the Sarah Palins of the world to ignore thsee very real and legitimate feelings shows an utter disregard for the experiences of the African American community, and provides chilling insight on they way a Palin (or McCain-Palin) administration would impact blacks and other minorities.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Here We Go

Finally, we've reached the beginning of the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, and this beginning is marked by a new line of attack from John McCain and his campaign. Finally, they are beginning to unleash the below-the-belt, outlandish and baseless attacks that many feared would come at some point in the election

With McCain's numbers slipping both nationally and in key battleground states, and Sarah Palin's not harmful but also not overwhelmingly great debate performance, the desperation within the McCain camp is so thick you could cut it with a knife. So, they've decided to attack Barack Obama by linking him with William Ayers, a man who has been labeled as a domestic terrorist for actions he participated in back in the 1960s - when Obama was a whopping eight years old! Just as there is no real substantive link between Obama and Franklin Rains (the sinister looking black former Freddy Mac executive) the Obama-Ayers connection doesn't extend beyond living in the same neighborhood and serving on a charitable board together.

Way back during the primary election factcheck.com pointed out that there is no substantive link between Obama and Ayers. I expect that they will be ripping this new McCain line of attack to shreds in the coming days.

Of course, in this morally deficiant society of ours, lies have become par for the course in high stakes elections. However, this particular lie reeks of an attempt to paint Senator Obama as a terrorist himself. It conjures up those nasty e-mail smears that are going around, spewing some hate-filled version of: "Barack Obama is a secret Islamic terrorist who is infiltrating the country by running for president so that he can destroy it from the inside out." This is code language, a dog whistle intended to appeal to the worst aspects of American society by sending the message that "he's not one of us, be scared of him."

Expect McCain campaign surrogates and Conservative commentators to began questioning Senator Obama's Christian faith within the next few days. This will probably be followed by a renewed bashing of his former mega-church Christian pastor. And if Obama tries to respond with that annoying little thing we know as the truth, expect the right-wing fanatics to accuse him of playing the race card.

Those of us who actually pay attention to the world around us, watch with a critical eye, and aren't fooled by such shenanigans know exactly what this is. We know that Republicans couldn't get away with this against a white candidate (although the fact that Obama is a Democrat and that Democrats are often portrayed by Republicans as weak does help some). We recognize this as an attempt to paint Obama as one of those crazy, unpatriotic, radical, angry black people who we must all fear and hate because he has the nerve to speak up when our nation does something wrong.

We must also know that there is more to come. It remains to be seen how close the Republicans will come to using overt racism to scrape together votes. The more desperate the become, the more likely it is. As their poll numbers slip, they will have less to loose by using race as a tool to create fear of an Obama administration. We should expect to see more ads that depict Obama as a sinister black man, soft on crime, wanting to give handouts to lazy welfare queens, and willing to sacrifice the safety of the nation to meet his own personal ambitions. Expect that the Republicans to be reckless in their lies (as they already have been). Be prepared for the possibility that [publicly] independent organizations will be overtly racist, especially in ad campaigns targeted as specific media markets.

This is the test of America's morality that we all knew would come if we nominated a black man. Now it's time for us to see if we pass the test, and to respond appropriately to the results. The next 30+ days are not for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Is John McCain Racist?

It's been about a week that I've been debating doing this post. Throughout this entire presidential campaign, I've maintained that I don't think John McCain is racist, and I think it's a just wrong to accuse him of being so without any type of proof. So, one can imagine the internal conflict I felt when I found reason to believe that John McCain's views of other races are less than acceptable.

I've decided to simply present the information that I have found. Before I do, let me say that I am not fully convinced concerning the credibility of the source. Personally, I think it's likely true, but this evidence is in no way definitive. That's why this post is titled "Is John McCain Racist?" and not "John McCain is Racist!"

At http://www.capitolhillblue.com/cont/node/10086 you will find a list of questionable actions by Senator McCain. These are mostly first hand accounts from Doug Thompson, a former Capitol Hill staffer who interacted with McCain over the years. Here is one of the less vulgar comments that Thompson reports:

Question: Why does Mexican beer have two "X's" on the label?
Answer: Because wetbacks always need a co-signer.
Thompson also adds,

McCain loved to tell jokes about lesbians, blacks, Hispanics and the Vietnamese community that occupied a large section of Arlington County, Virginia, just south of the District of Columbia.

Of course, McCain didn't use polite language in the jokes: He used names like "fags" or "queers" or "dykes" or "niggers" or "spics" or "wetbacks" or "gooks."

and,

McCain's collection of off-color jokes are riddled with racist words and sentiments. Advisors have toned down the raunchy rhetoric of his early years in Congress but close aides say his attitudes have not changed.

McCain opposed making the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King a national holiday. During his 2000 campaign for President, he told reporters on his "Straight Talk Express: "I hated the gooks (North Vietnamese). I will hate them as long as I live."

Finally, I want to point out one more of Thompson's many disturbing claims. He sites the book Gook: John McCain's Racism, written by Irwin A. Tank, stating that McCain once endorsed a frequent speaker at white supremacist rallies, and that "in answering a question about divorced fathers and child support, McCain called the children 'tar babies.'"

If these claims are true (and McCain's opposition to the MLK holiday and his use of the anti-Asian slur "gook" are known to be true) it should be quite alarming to all Americans. We must be concerned and ask ourselves if a person who believes and behaves in this way is the best choice to lead our nation.

Friday, September 26, 2008

John McCain is Insaine

I'm beginning to think that maybe we're getting to the point that we should start thinking about calling on Senator McCain to drop out of the presidential election. I mean, he does know that this isn't a game or a movie, right? Seriously, outside of the tragic disasters of September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, I can't recall any series of national events that have been so surreal. Much of it has been created by John McCain, and he keeps adding to the list.

Consider the latest campaign tactic of McCain: declaring that he won the first presidential debate BEFORE IT EVER HAPPENED! Yes, you read correctly. John McCain ran an ad celebrating his victory before the first word of the debate was even uttered. Just in case you don't believe me, go check out the story for yourself at the Washington Post, or just view the picture below:

Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, the Post also points gives some good details about how McCain's recent actions regarding the financial crisis and the bailout plan reek of political posturing and actually go against the virtues of bipartisanship he so often praises. Here are a few of the high points:

If you doubt that McCain's moves were about rescuing his candidacy rather than our economy, consider how his proposal to suspend the presidential campaign came about.

McCain had just finished a phone call with Obama on Wednesday in which they discussed a joint statement of principles and McCain broached the idea of suspending the campaign. Obama said he'd think about it, but McCain didn't give him time. To Obama's surprise, McCain appeared on television shortly after the conversation to announce his unilateral pause in campaigning and a call for postponing Friday's debate. This is bipartisanship?

As for getting the nominees to yesterday's White House meeting, Bush's lieutenants had been in discussions with McCain's people during the day Wednesday. Obama didn't get his invitation from the president until around 7:30 p.m., just an hour and a half before Bush's speech. This was an active intervention by Bush on behalf of McCain to box Obama into the photo op. Again, was this bipartisan?

Oh, and by the way, the result of that meeting was more discord and less progress. Yet, Senator McCain's handlers will come out over the next few days and blame Senator Obama for the failure of the economy and the inability to secure a bailout plan. This should come as no surprise, considering the actions of McCain so far.
  1. He's called himself a maverick, even though he has spent better part of the past decade moving closer and closer to President Bush, to the point of voting with Bush 90% of the time.
  2. He's found a way to simultaneously criticize Senator Obama for a lack of experience and blame him for all of Washington's problems and paint himself as the solution, despite the fact that he's been in congress for more than half of Obama's life.
  3. He exploits racism in his comments and campaign ads, and then accuses his opponent of playing the race card for simply acknowledging that he's black.
  4. He attempted to build a shield around himself to protect himself from any scrutiny or criticism whatsoever by making his answer to everything: "I was a POW, so I'm always right."
  5. He lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.
  6. He pulled off what was at that time the greatest camping stunt in American electoral politics by making his running mate the right-wing fanatical governor of a state with less than half the population of the City of Philadelphia.
  7. She lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.
  8. He pulled off the new biggest campaign stunt ever, by suspending his campaign (except for TV interviews and appearances by himself, his running mate, and their surrogates, campaign ads, campaign offices, or other campaign activities) and then calls for a postponing of tonight's debate, all so he can not rush to Washington and not help solve the week-and-a-half old financial crisis.
  9. He calls himself a regulator, despite long and well documented history of supporting deregulation.
  10. He calls his opponent (who owns one house, one car, and went to college on student loans) out of touch, even when he can't remember how many homes he owns, and probably can't decide which one his 13 cars to drive to get there.
Basically, he's running for president of a nation located in a universe in which he does not appear to currently live (even if he has a million houses there). And close to half the country may end up voting for him because "he's a maverick who puts country first."

Jesus also gave them this illustration: "Can one blind person lead another? Won't both fall into the same pit?" -

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why does Rush Limbaugh Need Obama not to be Black?


This man should have his voice surgically removed. Conservative radio shock-jock Rush Limbaugh lamented over media coverage of Barack Obama as an African American, because, according to him, Obama's lineage is Arab, not African.

Read More: Media Matters

Aside from the absurdity of claiming that an American born U.S. citizen of African heritage is wrong for self-identifying as an African American, Limbaugh is particular offensive just for the fact that he believes there is such a thing as "African blood" or "Arab blood."

Does he also believe that any white person with "a drop of black blood" is not white because their purity has been compromised? If he believes that there is such a thing as "African blood" or "Arab blood" does he also believe that people of different races are inherently and biologically different? And, why has he shown such a preoccupation with this issue? Remember it was Limbaugh who branded Obama and Oscar-winning actress Halley Berry as "halfricans," a reference to their multi-racial backgrounds. Why does Rush Limbaugh need Obama not to be black?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let Justice Prevail

Toady, a potentially innocent man is scheduled to be executed in Georgia. Troy Anthony Davis was convicted on killing an off-duty police officer in 1991. However, since that time seven of the nine key witnesses against Davis have recanted their testimony, helping to cast doubt on his guilt.

Click here to read the details from the Atlanta Journal Constituti
on.

Davis has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but they are not scheduled to hear his case until after he is executed. Courts in Georgia are not willing to postpone the execution until after the Supreme Court has made its ruling.

There are numerous problems with this situation. First, by going on with the execution, the state of Georgia is denying the opportunity for justice to be fully fulfilled. What should happen if the Supreme Court decides that Davis is innocent, or that he should receive a new trial or have his sentence commuted to life in prison? By then, it will be too late to administer this justice, because he will already be dead. By refusing to wait, Georgia is denying Davis his rights as a human being, closing off the opportunity for justice to be administered on his behalf.

Second, there is the fact that Davis may just be innocent. As stated above, most of the prosecution's witnesses recanted their testimony. In addition, ABC News reports that there was "no physical evidence tying Davis to the murder" and that "several new witnesses have come forward to implicate another man in the crime." Clearly, there is legitimate reason to believe that Davis is not guilty. How can one justify the execution of a man for a crime he may not have committed? The least the state can do is to wait for the Supreme Court to issue its ruling. To issue the ultimate, unending, irreversible punishment to a potentially innocent person is one of the greatest crimes that a government can commit. It betrays the lack of true justice in this country.

Although we will never know the answer to this question for sure, one can only wonder if a white man would receive the same treatment.

** Update: A good idea from another blog A La Gauche:

Please call the Georgia Parole Board at 404-651-6671. This is the direct line. A live person will pick up. Just give your name and your state and tell them that you disagree with their decision to deny clemency to Troy Davis. And even though it's easy to get angry with the situation, remember to be polite.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Racist "Obama Waffles" Box

I thought it was bad when I first saw the box...
...which reminded me of the racist image of Aunt Jemima.

And the top:And then there was the video. This is one of the more disgusting things I have witnessed in my 2+ decades:

He Has No Substance Besides His Substance

I recently read this about a Democratic ward leader from Northeast Philadelphia:

Bednarek was a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic convention, and Clinton overwhelmingly won her ward in the April primary.

"I supported Hillary because she had specific ideas and plans, and they were all on her Web site," Bednarek said. "Obama tends to be more abstract."

Asked if she'd visited Obama's Web site, Bednarek said, "Not really, not lately."

Tell me how that makes any sense. He has no specifics on his website, but I haven't viewed his website. This is a person - a Democratic leader - who isn't yet planning to vote for Obama BASED ON A LIE!

The Republicans have been successful in convincing people that Obama has no real substance behind his rhetoric. However, anyone with internet access and who knows how to use a computer can disprove that in a few minutes. So why do Democrats still believe the lie?

Is it possible that being black makes it easier for people to lie about you?

Gifted Children

I'm sitting here watching the Today show and they're doing a segment on child prodigies. I have one question: WHERE ARE THE BLACK CHILDREN?

Why don't we ask why black children are not often found in stories about these groups?

They define a prodigy as a child under ten years of age who is performing at an adult level. So what if a child has the ability to do such a thing, but they don't have the opportunity to use it? What if they have the ability to we a world class violin player by the age of five, but never get the chance to pick up a violin?

Why don't more people naturally ask these questions?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Philly Inquirer Articles Raise Key Question

After reading two very good pieces of commentary from the Philadelphia Inquirer, both criticizing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, I found myself asking this question: could a liberal black man get away with nearly as much as she does?

First, Mark Bowden took Palin to task for criticizing Barack Obama for wanting to treat humans as humans:

But it was in that much-heralded speech at the Republican convention that Palin tossed off a line I found more disturbing than anything unearthed about her since. It got a predictably enthusiastic response from the keyed-up partisan crowd.

"Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America," said Palin, and then, referring to Barack Obama, quipped: "He's worried that someone won't read them their rights."

Quite apart from the cheap distortion of Obama's position, typical of most campaign rhetoric, this is a classic lynch-mob line. It is the taunt of the drunken lout in the cowboy movie who confronts a sheriff barring the prison door - He wants to give 'im a trial? It is the precise sentiment that Atticus Finch so memorably sets himself against in Harper Lee's masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird, when he agrees to defend a supposedly indefensible black man charged with rape (falsely, as it turns out).

Now, the question I have is, why does the line of attack Palin is using here work? It's not surprising that Republicans would think it good strategy to attack a black candidate as soft on crime - or in this case soft on the worst kind of criminals: terrorst. Sure, his personality and his political affiliation also add to the attractiveness of this strategy. But let's be real, this works in part because he's black and black people have long been associated with violence and with letting people get away with violence.

But let's flip the tables. What if it were Obama attacking a white politician on such grounds? What if Palin and Obama switched roles? We would then see Obama attacked for not respecting the Constituation. He would be cast as unpatriotic and not "one of us." When will we realize that such a line of attack is not dependent on one's actual positons? These attacks will have roughly the same rate of success no matter what, because they are based on the color of the attacked person's skin, and not on any other political or otherwise substantive variables.

The next article I read was by Dick Poleman. He writes:
She stated on ABC News that Alaska produces "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." The accurate energy statistic, according to the federal government, is 3.5 percent. She subsequently amended her boast, claiming during a stump speech that Alaska produces "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." Wrong again. The accurate oil and gas statistic, according to the feds, is 7.4 percent.

Yet none of that matters to McCain, and why should it?

In America these days, we award everyone for merit, from the brilliant to the mediocre. Just as in Little League, everyone gets a trophy. It's the ultimate in populist democratization. Which is why McCain insists, despite all empirical evidence to the contrary, that Sarah Palin "knows more about energy than probably anybody in the United States of America."
Now, would Barack Obama (or Duval Patrick or Harold Ford or any other black politicain) be able to get away with someting like this? NO! In fact, when we do better than this and succeed, we are dismissed as some affirmative action stunt. It's amazing that right-wing empty suits can talk about how qualified Palin is out of one side of their mouth and criticize Senator Obama for being unexperienced out of the other. Obama (and Joe Biden, and other Democratic candidates at all levels around the country) proves his preparedness for office by not sounding like a moron every time he opens his mouth. However, this doesn't matter, because 45 years after Dr. King's much heralded but rarely heeded I Have a Dream speech, the same white media and priviledged white electorate refuse to evaluate a person by the content of his or her character and not the color of his or her skin.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Will Racists Cost Obama the Election?

Over the past few moths, I've heard many people complain that Barack Obama may lose the presidential election, not because of a lack of experience or good ideas, but because of racial prejudice. On the other hand, others have argued that this is an inappropriate complaint. Such individuals insist that the fact that Obama has gotten this far, with the help of white primary voters, is proof that if he looses, it will be the fault of the candidate, and not his skin.

As you can guess, I personally fall into the first category. This is because I believe that race is still a powerful force in our society, wielding an influence greater than most Americans are willing to admit. However, I have another, stronger, less abstract reason for felling this way: the facts.

The facts are as follows:

  • Barack Obama is running against John McCain. McCain is a Republican, the same party as George Bush, one of the least popular presidents in U.S. History.
  • John McCain also has a history as a senator of voting in line with Bush's policies.
  • Most Americans oppose the war in Iraq. Obama wants to pull troops out of Iraq, and has a plan to do so in a timely manner. McCain is more committed to long-term occupation of Iraq. He feels that leaving in equivalent to loosing (loosing what, I'm not sure).
  • Our economy is in the toilet. I mean a disgusting, unwashed, public toilet. Most Americans, especially in times like these, would support an Obama economic plan. Lower taxes for the middle class. Reward companies for keeping jobs in the U.S. Create more jobs. Regulate big business. You know, things that actually make sense.
I could go on all day, but I'll sum it up like this: on the issues, most Americans overwhelmingly agree with Obama, not McCain.

Yet, each and every poll shows a big gap between agreeing with Obama on the issues and actual support for Obama. In other words, people want a president who will do what Obama will do, they just don't want Obama.

This leaves one to question, what is it about Barack Obama that makes him so difficult for people to vote for? Well, what's the most obviously unique thing about him? What makes him different than any one who has ever held the office of President of the United States? HE'S BLACK! (actually he's brown. or some shade thereof, ask Crayola)

Of course, no one wants to attribute Obama's lack of a larger lead in the polls to race; that would be like saying Americans are racist. But, when one looks at the facts, one will find that we kind of are. No, not all of us, not even most of us, just enough of us.

I'm not making this up. Actual polling data shows that many Americans harbor negative opinions of blacks, and this could very well be a deciding factor in the election. Consider the following excerpts from this AP article appearing in Newsweek:
Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about 2.5 percentage points.
What does this mean? It means that 33.33333....% of white DEMOCRATS think that black people are bad things. No wonder he's having trouble “closing ranks.” Thats one in every three, folks. That can turn an election. Here's more:
Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.
Wondering where the lead that Obama should have is? Well, there you have it. Get rid of prejudice, he's up 6 points (OK, its an estimate, but it's an educated estimate based on real, scientifically derived numbers).

What does this all mean? It means that this election is what I knew it would be from the moment it began: a gut-check for America. If we really value the content of a person's character rather than the color of his or her skin, than when a capable black leader comes along who reflects our view of the way a country should be run – the way a leader should act and the policy initiatives that leader should pursue – than that person should be elected. Right now, we stand at the threshold of failing that test.

I'll leave you with some more results of the poll. They should make voters' inability to value character over color less shocking.

Adjectives associated with blacks:
"We still don't like black people," said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.

Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.


The plight of black America is black America's fault:
The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."

Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.
Independents:
Among white independents, racial stereotyping is not uncommon. For example, while about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks "intelligent" or "smart," more than one third latched on the adjective "complaining" and 24 percent said blacks were "violent."

Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they "try harder."

Voting for Clinton because Obama's black:
Just 59 percent of her [Senator Hillary Clinton's] white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton's white backers plan to vote for McCain.

Among white Democrats, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries — particularly whites with high school education or less — were motivated in part by racial attitudes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

World's Biggest Idiot

Is it humanly possible to be a bigger idiot than DeShaun Jackson?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain's New Low - The Sex Ed Lie

This presidential campaign has gone to a whole new low level that I think few could have predicted it would have. Over the past few months we've endured lies, distortions, smears, and an abandonment of the issues that I'm sure would turn anyone's stomach. We though, “Well, this is real bad. I guess this is what the campaign is going to be like.”

Then it got worse. Much worse.

Yesterday, I returned home from a long day and learned of a new ad being run by the McCain campaign. It attacked Senator Barack Obama on his education record. I won't do McCain the favor of posting the entire ad here, but I do want to highlight the most vile and disgusting part of it. The announce in the ad claims that Obama supported teaching “'comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners,” and then goes on to state, “Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.”
Well that's a lie. The bill that the ad is referring to didn't teach five-year-olds how to have sex, as McCain would have you to believe. Instead, it was aimed at preventing the sexual assault of minors. The bill allowed for schools to teach kindergartners what to do when inappropriately touched or otherwise interacted with by an adult.

For his part, Obama's campaign responded as follows:

It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls -- a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.
I agree with Obama's response wholeheartedly. It shows an utter lack of moral integrity that McCain would attack Obama for supporting a bill aimed at protecting young children. The fact that McCain would take such a worthwhile bill and dishonestly warp its meaning to suggest that Obama, a father of two, supports measures that would teach children about sex in inappropriate ways shows that McCain has little, if anything, to offer our nation on education or anything else that matters.

This comes on the same day in which the McCain camp called Obama sexist for saying (in reference to the similarities between McCain's policies and those of President Bush) “you can ... put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig.” This is a comment that was directed at John McCain, and the pig in the analogy was McCain's/Bush's policies, not any actually human being. Yet, somehow, McCain found it sexist and demanded an apology.

The worst part of all of this is that the American people are falling for it. National polls show McCain doing much better than he has in the past. The media is choosing to cover these stories and not the issues. They fail to acknowledge McCain's actions for what they are – lies – and even when they do criticize McCain, it seems they always have a way to make it Obama's fault.

That brings me back to what I believe is an enduring question in this race: If Obama wasn't black, would this be happening? Would Republicans be able to get away with doing this to a white candidate? Would they be so confident in their lies? Would they be able to base their campaign on falsehoods with confidence that any changes in the polls that result will be changes in their favor? Is it clear that the entire Republican campaign strategy is made possible by Obama's skin?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chris Matthews Calls GOP on Racial Tactics

It seems that finally someone in the mainstream media is almost as fed up as me with the racial/cultural tactics being employed by the Republican party and their blatantly hypocritical promotion of their empty-suit vice presidential nominee and their "change you can't believe in" presidential nominee.

Today on Hardball, Chris Matthews (who may have decided to just let loose and be open after being booted from special event election coverage) ripped into Republicans, stating the obvious:

  1. The Republicans have no desire to campaign on the issues
  2. Their selection of a rural female for VP was an appeal not to America's brains, but to it's hate and fear of "the other"
  3. The selection of Palin, the mocking of the term "community organizer," and other ridiculous actions are really attempts to use "dog whistles" to racialize the election - and it's working.
Here's the clip:

The Oppression Sweepstakes

Well, here we go again. During the Democratic Presidential Primary, lots of people got caught up in what came to be known as the “Oppression Sweepstakes,” a fight over which was more historically significant and barrier-breaking: the nomination of an African American or a woman. The nomination of Sara Palin by the GOP for vice president is sure to revive this debate.

Personally, I am not comfortable with the way such a conversation usually goes.

First, the totality of the people involved is often ignored. When people talk about the hurdles a Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin have had to jump and compare them to Barack Obama, they make a woman-man comparison. Such a comparison overlooks the fact that the women involved are not just women, but white women, and the man involved is not just a man, but a black man. So, conservatively speaking (little-c conservative), for all the struggles that Clinton or Palin face as women, they also enjoy many advantages as white women. Some would argue, logically so, that for all the struggles Obama faces as an African American, he enjoys many advantages as a man.

However, I would argue that while the latter claim is true to some extent, Obama's blackness prevents him from fully partaking in male-privilege. From what I can tell, all men enjoy some aspects of male privilege, but they way we typically think about such privilege really only applies to white men. Furthermore, we often overlook the fact that the combination of Obama's blackness and his maleness leads to unique set of challenges. African American men are perhaps the most vilified subset of the population in our nation's history. It doesn't help that he's running against at ticket that contains a white female. Black male-white female combinations don't usually go well in American history (what comes immediately to mind: any slave and his master's wife, the Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till, O.J. Simpson, Terrel Owens, miscegenation laws, segregated proms, I think you get the point).

It's also important to remember that racism and sexism aren't parallels. They don't operate in the same way, and you can't compare them in a 1:1 relationship. Racism and sexism don't manifest themselves in the same way. One very visible sign of sexism during the Democratic Primary was seen at Hillary Clinton rallies, where attendees would show up with shirts and bearing “iron my shirt” and other sexist and objectionable comments. Now, does this mean that if there were no racist signs at Obama rallies that there was also no racism during the race? Certainly not. It just means that racism manifested itself in quieter but equally – if not more – pervasive and destructive ways.

Yet, in the wake of Palin's nomination and inappropriate reactions to it, the media has shown a knack for pointing out instances of sexism, while at they same time marginalizing or even ignoring the impact of race on the election. It seams that the mainstream media has selective amnesia, forgetting the many smears (he's a Muslim, he's socialist, he's a terrorist, he's trying to infiltrate America, he's the anti-Christ) and threats of violence that have been hurled at Obama, and choosing to ignore the role that race has played in making these smears and Republican lies possible.

Personally, I don't understand how the media can take it as it's journalistic duty to hold Obama and Joe Biden accountable for criticism, issues-based or otherwise, of Governor Palin in the name of stopping sexism, while at the same time they stand silently while Palin and other extreme right-wing lunatics mock Obama, distort his record, and lie about him with a smile on their faces.

Listen, both white privilege and male privilege are topics that are in play in this election and deserve more serious discussion. However, it is clear to me that the term “oppression sweepstakes” is a misnomer, because with the current behavior of the media there's no contest.



Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Republican Lies

So, apparently Republicans don't just lie about Obama. They lie about themselves,too. And what a surprise: the mainstream media let's them get away with it. CALL A LIE A LIE!

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin touts her record as a reformer who worked to end the "abuses of earmark spending in Congress." But Palin has embraced earmarks from early on in her career as a mayor of Wasilla to the governor's mansion in Juneau. Just this year she proposed 31 earmarks totaling $197 million — more, per person than any other state.

read more | digg story

Palin's Racist Comments

I'm posting this, even thought I'm not sure it's true, because I think it needs to be investigated further, yet I see it nowhere. I can not stress enough how important it is to consider the source of this maybe-news. I am not saying that the following story is true, only that it should be taken seriously, and it's validity should be investigated. If it turns out to be true, I can only hope that it will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

Also, be forewarned that this post contains language that some may find objectionable. I've decided to post it as I found it.

According to laprogressive.com, a name which made me suspicious from the start, Governor Sara Palin uttered the following in response to Senator Barack Obama winning the Democratic presidential nomination:

So Sambo beat the bitch!
The article by Charley James then goes on to explain the source of the information:
According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.
This is disturbing, yet at the same time a little questionable, considering that it's from one source and only her first name is mentioned. However, James goes on to cite another account of Palin's racist attitude:
"She’s a bigot, a racist, and a liar," is the more blunt assessment of Arnold Gerstheimer who lived in Alaska until two years ago and is now a businessman in Idaho.

"Juneau is a small town; everybody knows everyone else," he adds. "These stories about what she calls blacks and Eskimos, well, anyone not white and good looking actually, were around long before she became a glint in John McCain’s rheumy eyes. Why do I know they’re true? Because everyone who isn’t aboriginal or Indian in Alaska talks that way."

Now, I must say, while I had questions about the source of all this information, I realy wasn't supprised at all. After witnessing the condicending tone of Palin and other speakers at the Republican National Convenition this week, It's hard for news of racism on the part of any of them to be shocking. It's one thing to criticize your opponite and talk about why he or she is wrong. It's another thing to belittle, mock, and distort his record, showing an utter lack of respect. To me, it sounded as if the speakers this week felt that Obama didn't diserve to play polictics on their level. That he had no buisness running for president. That he didn't know his place.

Yes, it even sounded as if they were calling him "uppity." In fact, this week a Republican congressman, Lynn Westmoreland, did call Obama just that. So, maybe, finally, people will wake up to the racist code language that has been used against Obama for the past year and a half, and maybe, just maybe, America will do something out of character and refuse to accept the politics of hatred and fear.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin's Speech

Let me just say that I haven't yet watched Sarah Palin's speech. I have read excerpts of it, which is the reason why I have not watched it - yet. To be quite frank, I decided not to watch it after reading parts of it released before she actually gave the speech. I was so offended by what I read that I decided not to watch it. I knew I just couldn't handle it emotionally. Maybe I'll watch it in parts later, and surely if I do I'll write about it. For now, I'll post the words of Will Bunch, of the Philadelphia Daly News's "Attytood." His words summ up the rush of emotion I felt from even just parts of the speech.

Attytood: Palin's speech to nowhere

Sarah Palin delivered a great speech tonight -- for her party, for John McCain, for herself, for what she set out to accomplish. This was America's first real glimpse at the Alaska governor, and what we saw was a boffo politician who speaks in a plaintive prairie voice that channels America's Heartland like a chilling breeze rippling a field of wheat, who knows how to tell a joke, how to bring down the house and bring a tear to a few eyes. She is proud of her family, as she should be, and there is much to admire in her own "personal journey of discovery" (don't we all have these, by the way?) including her efforts to raise her son Trig. It is indeed nice to think that there would be an advocate for such children inside the corridors of the White House, although I'd surely like to hear what -- if anything -- she's done for special needs kids as governor of Alaska.

But...it was a great speech -- written for someone else, a male in fact, days before the Palin selection was even a gleam in John McCain's eye, but a great speech nonetheless. The pundits are fawning over it as I write this -- Tom Brokaw said she could have been "more winning and more engaging" -- and in a world that is dominated by horse race journalism I can understand why, because I agree that Palin's one-of-a-kind story has given her long shot running mate a decent chance now of pulling this one out at the finish line.

It's a good metaphor, a horse race, because in the end it finishes right near where it started -- just as it will be for America if John McCain and Sarah Palin are sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. Yes, it was a great speech politically, and a great night for her family, but an empty speech for America -- and for America's families. It was defined by its lowest moment, Palin's shameless lie about "the Bridge to Nowhere."

This was a Speech to Nowhere.

It was a Speech to Nowhere when Palin said that "I told the Congress 'Thanks but no thanks' on that Bridge to Nowhere, because that was a lie, and the worst kind of lie in American politics, a blatant falsehood that showed utter contempt for the American people that Palin pledged to serve, assuming we are too stupid to look up or know that truth, that she pushed for those funds in Congress and while she got great political mileage out of announcing that she was killing the project, she still has not returned the funds to American people.

It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin also boasted seconds before her lie of fighting against wasteful earmarks in Congress, even though she pushed for and accepted $27 million of such grants when she was mayor of Wasilla.

It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin said that "we've got lots" of oil and gas this country, and while one supposes that all depends upon what you definition of the words "lots" is, the production of oil in the United States has been irrevocably on the decline since 1970, and with her words she showed this nation that she and John McCain will perpetrate the dangerous myths that began with Ronald Reagan at his acceptance speech in 1980, that sunny optimism is the solution to all our energy woes, and not a posture that put energy research on a war footing, or requires moral leadership on conservation, mass transit, or any other common sense answers whatsoever.

It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin boasted that "I stood up to the special interests, and the lobbyists, and the Big Oil companies," and the audience cheered -- after eight brutal years of the same crowd's cheering two oilmen in the White House who fiddled while $4-a-gallon gas burned and while American men and women died in a needless war fought on top of an oilfield, and while lobbyist friends like Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed got rich at the same time.

It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin had the nerve to talk at length about John McCain's "torturous interrogations" in the very same speech when she all but condoned the continuation of similar, abhorrent practices that have been directed for eight years by our own U.S. leaders, when she stated that Democrats are "worried that someone won't read them [terrorism suspects] their rights."

It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin belittled "community organizers" -- thousands of Americans who work long hours for little pay in some of the toughest neighborhoods, trying to assist the American Dream that even the poorest among us can pull themselves out of the muck with a helping hand. Palin and other GOP speakers have turned a noble job into a dirty word tonight -- shame on you! Listen to what CNN's Roland Martin said after Palin's speech was over.

My two parents are sitting home in Houston, Texas and they are both community organizers and the GOP and Sarah Palin might have well have said "being community organizers doesn't matter" to my parents face. I'm disgusted. Community organizers keep people in their homes, keep their lights on, keep food in the fridge.

It was a Speech to Nowhere because it made no mention of the men that Sarah Palin and John McCain are running to replace -- their names are Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, in case you've forgotten this week -- and no acknowledgment that as many 80 percent of Americans believe this country is on the wrong track, or that you can't solve a nation's problems when you deny they exist.

It was a Speech to Nowhere because...well, I urge everyone to read the text, without Palin's sharp delivery or her adoring fans in the crowd and in the press box, and tell me where there is any kind of policy at all -- except for the short boilerplate passage on energy -- or any mention of the issues that concern everyday Americans, including the No. 1 issue of the economy. Show me the part where this "grand slam" of speech touches on how citizens can afford health care or sending their kids to college.

But more than anything else, it was a Speech to Nowhere because for all the acclaim, the great bulk of it was devoted to one thing, and that is the one thing that millions of Americans are talking about in 2008 when we talk about "change" -- to the ugliest kind of "pit bull" politics, to use Palin's words, that tear down the other side with cheap ad hominem attacks, surrounded by a cloud of half-truths (uh, those "Greek columns"...did you actually even watch Obama's speech? Because there weren't any) and ridiculous innuendo about "parting the waters" which means nothing but fires up a big hockey rink full of Dittoheads. These kind of vicious attacks -- without having the grace to acknowledge that, despite some real differences on issues with Obama, that he has already accomplished something impressive that says something positive about America and the progress we've made -- were utterly lacking in class. And this is what Tom Brokaw considers "winning" -- have we really sunk that low as a nation?. The people of America want and deserve a real debate, now trash talk from the basketball point guard who was once called "Sarah Barracuda."

I hope America wakes up tomorrow and realizes that Sarah Palin's words were rousing -- and completely empty, that they offered no road map (let alone bridge) for America other than more of the bogus partisan name-calling that has gotten us into the mess that we're in now.

Actually, let me rephrase that.

I hope America wakes up tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's Okay to Lie About Black People

If there's one thing that can be learned from this year's presidential election, it's that, in spite of the great progress our nation has made over the past century in terms of race relations, it's still socially acceptable to lie about black people. In fact, you can tell a bold-faced lie about a public black figure and get away with it. Even when your lie is exposed, you won't be called to account for what you have done. You won't suffer any consequences. People will still believe what you said. If you don't believe me, then just look at the case of John McCain and the GOP, who are now realizing that they can say just about anything, true or false, about Barack Obama and get away with it.

Example #1: McCain, Obama, and Taxes
Senator McCain and his team are quite fond of claiming that an Obama administration would raise taxes on the average American family. This is just not true. Now, of course, in a presidential election we expect both sides to do a little (OK, a lot) of truth bending to make themselves look really good and the opposition look really bad. However, what McCain has done consistently is nothing more than a straight-up lie. According to Factcheck.org, an independent fact checking organization, McCain has shown a “pattern of deceit,” in ads that are “plain wrong about higher taxes on working families.” And when they say ads, they mean multiple ads in multiple languages.

Here's more from Factcheck.org:

Overall... Obama’s plan would produce a tax cut for 81.3 percent of all households, and a cut for 95.5 percent of all households with children.
and,
Under Obama's plan... people (or couples) making between $37,595 and $66,354 a year would see an average savings of $1,118 on their taxes. Under McCain's plan, on the other hand, those same individuals would save $325 on average — $793 less than the average savings under Obama's plan.
However, there seems to be no stomach in the mainstream media for calling McCain's attacks what they are – a lie. You can imagine, my senses were heightened to this in an environment that has already seen Senator Obama smeared as a radical Muslim, a hater of white people, a terrorist, and the Antichrist.

Example #2: Change About Nothing
Voices from the right have repeatedly claimed that Obama speaks about “change” and “hope” without ever speaking about what specifically that change would be. However, Obama does talk in specifics about what he would do as president. And if what he gives you in speeches isn't enough, he's got a whole website with sections devoted to policy detail.

But, of course, calling him long or words and short on detail fits into a longstanding stereotype of blacks as being stylistically gifted but substantively lacking, so the lie stands.

Example #3: Obama vs. Palin on Experience
John McCain had the audacity to go on FOX “News” Sunday and claim that his new VP pick, Sara Palin of Alaska, has more executive experience than Obama, pointing out that “When she was in government, he was a community organizer.” Only that's not true. McCain LIED! The Associated Press points out that when Obama was a community organizer, Palin was a news anchor. Now, let me ask you, which job gives more executive experience? He also stated that she “has had enormous responsibilities, none of which Senator Obama had.” Sure, because being a city council member, a mayor, and a governor in a remote, isolated, underpopulated corner of the globe is the same as being a community organizer, state legislator and U.S. Senator from the third largest city in the nation. The AP article also notes that McCain brought up the issue of Obama's “present” votes in the Illinois state legislature, which, while not a lie, were quite misleading.

What is my point here? I'm sure that if the Democrats had nominated someone else, someone less black, for president (oh, let's say Joe Biden for fun) there would be some truth bending and even some lying going on. However, it's the response that's disturbing. McCain would never get away with doing this to some 72-year old white male war hero. Yet, today, McCain's inability to tell the truth about his opponent still is not a major headline. I still don't hear reporters asking him why he has told so many untruths, or if he would like to withdraw the statements he has made that have been reported to be untrue. In fact, even when I hear these falsehoods reported on, there seems to be no will to call them what they are: lies. But that just means that now, as has been for the entire history of our nation, it's OK to lie about black people.

UPDATE (@ about 3:36 pm):
First Read's Mark Murray points out that McCain has also been very misleading in his claim that Obama has given tax breaks to oil companies. According to independent fact checking, the very bill that McCain is referring to resulted in a net tax INCREASE on oil companies. More lies.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Councilman Clarke Victime of Hate Crime

The Philadelphia Daily News on philly.com is reporting that Councilman Darrell Clarke was the victim of a hate crime:.

City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke was the victim of an apparent hate crime, police and Clarke just told Philly Confidential.

Clarke said he walked outside his house this morning and found Nazi symbols and the letters "KKK" spray-painted on his car, a vehicle belonging to a relative of one of his staffers and another local resident's car. Crime Scene Unit investigators are currently dusting his car for prints while detectives try to determine what motivated the incident.

"Some idiot decided for whatever reason they needed to paint a swastika and 'KKK' all over my car," Clarke said. "I couldn't believe it."

Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said investigators "are treating this as a hate crime. It's disgusting and we're trying to get to the bottom of who is behind it."

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I just returned home from watching something that I spent most of my life believing I would never see - a black man accepted his party's nomination for president. I don't think that I have fully comprehended all of what this means or all of what it will mean if this journey is completed and this nation for the first time elects an African American. However, it is with great hope and anticipation that I look forward to the many who will walk boldly through the doors that have been swung wide open today. As corny and partisan as it may sound, I today believe again, as I did when I was a small child, that we have the power to change the world.